Delegate seeks recount in 18-vote election loss Request by Schade came on day husband of winner Rosso died

November 20, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Mary Rosso said her husband of 42 years died Wednesday believing she won the election for the District 31 House of Delegates seat, and that's all that matters to her.

The environmental activist's narrow victory has been thrown into doubt by defeated incumbent Victoria L. Schade's unprecedented request for a recount. But Rosso said yesterday she believes her 18-vote margin will stand.

Her husband, Frank Rosso Sr., 61, died Wednesday, two days after the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections certified the vote count and the narrow margin in the District 31 race.

Schade filed her petition asking the county board of elections to conduct a recount the day Frank Rosso died.

It will be the first recount in the state under a 1996 elections law provision that allows recounts of general election results in addition to primary results. The last recount of any kind may have been in the 1980s in Montgomery County, according to Linda Lamone, state administrator of elections.

The request threw county and state elections officials into a frenzy as they prepared for what is expected to be a 30-hour process of inspecting 35,000 ballots individually in the elections board office in Glen Burnie, starting this morning and continuing tomorrow and Monday.

Twenty elections workers in teams of four will go through the ballots and re-tally the votes, according to Barbara L. Fisher elections director in Anne Arundel County.

"It is a very big task," she said. "It's something that hasn't happened before, and we are starting from scratch."

Schade gave no reason for her request, Fisher said.

Schade had to file a $9,750 bond to cover the cost of the recount. If the result is unchanged or if it shows a gain for her of less than 2 percent of the votes cast for delegate in the district, she will have to pay for the recount.

The Republican received 15,318 votes to Democrat Rosso's 15,336, according to the official count.

Schade did not return a call to her home yesterday. A former aide to two delegates from Baltimore County, she won the seat in 1994 with a 498-vote margin, becoming at age 23 one of the youngest members of the House.

Until 1996, recounts were allowed in Maryland only after primary elections, but legislators changed the law after Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey's long court challenge of her 1994 defeat in the governor's race by Parris N. Glendening.

Elections officials from around the state will be watching Anne Arundel County to see how the recount goes, Lamone said.

Rosso said she will be more concerned with planning services for her husband.

Frank Rosso, who ran Rosso Music in Glen Burnie before selling the business two years ago, supported his wife through the elections and attended the election night celebrations with her. xTC He died at home of complications from diabetes.

Rosso said she is not surprised by the recount request.

Even if the recount shows Schade won, Rosso said, her concerns will be elsewhere.

"Losing an election is nothing compared to losing a husband of 42 years," she said.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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